Friday, June 8, 2012

Impossible? No Way.

Judges 14

New Living Translation (NLT) (emphasis added)

Samson’s Riddle

14 One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. 2 When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.”
3 His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?”
But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” 4 His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time.
5 As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion suddenly attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. 6 At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion’s jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn’t tell his father or mother about it. 7 When Samson arrived in Timnah, he talked with the woman and was very pleased with her.
8 Later, when he returned to Timnah for the wedding, he turned off the path to look at the carcass of the lion. And he found that a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. 9 He scooped some of the honey into his hands and ate it along the way. He also gave some to his father and mother, and they ate it. But he didn’t tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.
10 As his father was making final arrangements for the marriage, Samson threw a party at Timnah, as was the custom for elite young men. 11 When the bride’s parents[a] saw him, they selected thirty young men from the town to be his companions.
12 Samson said to them, “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. 13 But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.”
“All right,” they agreed, “let’s hear your riddle.”
14 So he said:
“Out of the one who eats came something to eat;
out of the strong came something sweet.”
Three days later they were still trying to figure it out. 15 On the fourth[b] day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to explain the riddle for us, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?”
16 So Samson’s wife came to him in tears and said, “You don’t love me; you hate me! You have given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”
“I haven’t even given the answer to my father or mother,” he replied. “Why should I tell you?” 17 So she cried whenever she was with him and kept it up for the rest of the celebration. At last, on the seventh day he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging. Then she explained the riddle to the young men.
18 So before sunset of the seventh day, the men of the town came to Samson with their answer:
“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”
Samson replied, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”
19 Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother. 20 So his wife was given in marriage to the man who had been Samson’s best man at the wedding.

Judges 15

New Living Translation (NLT) (emphasis added)

Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines

15 Later on, during the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat as a present to his wife. He said, “I’m going into my wife’s room to sleep with her,” but her father wouldn’t let him in.
2 “I truly thought you must hate her,” her father explained, “so I gave her in marriage to your best man. But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.”
3 Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.” 4 Then he went out and caught 300 foxes. He tied their tails together in pairs, and he fastened a torch to each pair of tails. 5 Then he lit the torches and let the foxes run through the grain fields of the Philistines. He burned all their grain to the ground, including the sheaves and the uncut grain. He also destroyed their vineyards and olive groves.
6 “Who did this?” the Philistines demanded.
“Samson,” was the reply, “because his father-in-law from Timnah gave Samson’s wife to be married to his best man.” So the Philistines went and got the woman and her father and burned them to death.
7 “Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I won’t rest until I take my revenge on you!” 8 So he attacked the Philistines with great fury and killed many of them. Then he went to live in a cave in the rock of Etam
9 The Philistines retaliated by setting up camp in Judah and spreading out near the town of Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked the Philistines, “Why are you attacking us?”
The Philistines replied, “We’ve come to capture Samson. We’ve come to pay him back for what he did to us.”
11 So 3,000 men of Judah went down to get Samson at the cave in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us? What are you doing to us?”
But Samson replied, “I only did to them what they did to me.”
12 But the men of Judah told him, “We have come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
“All right,” Samson said. “But promise that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “We will only tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines,” they replied. “We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
14 As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. 15 Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it.

In Judges 14:6, Samson's strength is revealed to us as he rips apart the jaw of a lion.  I don't know about you, but to me that sounds impossible. Samson was barehanded, yet he was able to tear a lion apart. P.S.I. is a unit of measurement used to measure the strength of say a lion's jaw. P.S.I. stands for pounds per square inch. The P.S.I. of a lion's jaw is between 600 and 700 pounds.  This feat is pretty much measured impossible, but if you look back at the verse it reads, "At that moment the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him, and he ripped the lion's jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat." (emphasis added).  In Philippians 4:13, we find, "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Of course what Samson did is unbelievable, but it is certainly not impossible when the Spirit of the Lord is POWERFULLY upon him!

In Judges 14:19, we see more of what Samson does through the Lord.  He was tricked and now he had to pay those who "solved" his riddle with 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes. The Lord equipped him and he took from the Philistines what he was to give to the Philistines. But hold on. One man killing thirty men? Weird, right? In Psalm 18:29, David writes, "In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." Surely this was the case for Samson. In the strength of the Spirit of the Lord that was upon him, Samson struck down thirty men. Again what seems impossible to us, is more than possible with God.

In Judges 15:14, Samson is tied up in new, strong rope. But the Spirit of the Lord on him was much, much stronger than the rope he was tangled up in. "The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands." In Psalm 37:17, we read, "For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly." Were the ropes of the Philistines not wicked? Were they not shattered? With the Spirit of the Lord upon him, Samson defeated them.

 With the Spirit of the Lord on us, could we do the seemingly impossible? 

What are you facing today that is conquering you? Do you feel like there is no hope? What you are going through may very well be impossible for you to face... on your own. Is the Spirit of the Lord upon you? With Him, NOTHING is impossible.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's in your vomit?

In the Old Testament, there were many regulations as to what you could or couldn't eat. For example, if an animal had a divided hoof and chewed it's cud, it was considered clean and the Israelites could eat it. On the other hand, if something didn't meet the qualifications, it was considered unclean. So if someone ate it, they were unclean.
The Pharisees approached Jesus and his disciples in Mark 7 about their eating with defiled hands. Jesus replied by telling them that they are so focused on their traditions, that they are forgetting the commands of God. He tells them that nothing that goes into you can defile you, if is what comes out. What comes out of you is from your heart and only that can make you clean or unclean.

Mark 7:1-15, 17-23 NIV
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?" He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
"'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions." And he continued, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.' But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them." After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person."

In The Message translation, it quotes Jesus as saying in verses 20-23, "It's what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness-all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution."

In Luke 6:45, Jesus addresses this subject yet again. "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."

We must search our hearts and our minds to know if it is good or evil that we are storing up in our hearts. Because whatever is stored up within us WILL COME OUT! If a water bottle is full of water and you squeeze it, what comes out? Water because that is what is inside of the bottle. What is stored up inside of you? What is coming out of you? What is in your vomit? Is your heart a source of pollution?

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Matthew 8:5-13;23-27

The Faith of the Centurion
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Jesus Calms the Storm
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Time and time again, Jesus preached about Faith.  The Centurion knew the power that he had as a leader and recognized the superior power that Jesus had.  He also saw the superiority that Jesus had over him and knew he was unworthy.  He believed what he had heard about Jesus and had faith that He could heal his servant.  I think the Centurion had the right idea.  Can you imagine if we all had faith like that of the Centurion, of whom Jesus said, "I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith."?  Even the disciples doubted, though they had seen so many of Jesus' miracles.  They were stuck in a storm and Jesus was on the boat, yet they were afraid!  I catch myself thinking, "Why did they doubt?"  But then I realize I do the exact same thing.  I have seen the work and wonders of God's hand. I have felt the power of His presence, yet I am afraid.  I worry.  I forget that all along Jesus was there.  He never gives up on us!  He is waiting for us to call out to Him to stop the storm.     

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surviving the Storm

James 1:2-18

Trials and Temptations
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
     A little over a year ago, God moved my family from our home of 12 years in Normal, Illinois to Sachse, Texas. Our first day in town was our first glimpse at what the first few months here would be like. Hard. I remember sitting on my bed in my new room surrounded by boxes that were waiting to be unpacked and feeling so homesick. This feeling didn't let up too quickly and I relied on God to be my comforter. I knew that this was my new life that God had placed me in for a reason. Even though I couldn't see it then, if I continued to cling to Him, God would show me the reason in His timing. I learned that God would help me persevere and with His help, I would adjust to life in Texas in no time.

     To be honest, I had my doubts - my times of thinking I would never get used to Texas. But God worked with me through those times and now I am happy to tell you that I am loving life in Sachse, Texas. I have made wonderful friends and I can see God's purpose in this more clearly.

     What are you facing today that seems impossible to survive? I hope that you can find joy in the testing of your faith. Persevere and trust God's plan in this. Trust me, you will find that it is ALWAYS worth it to follow God, even when it is difficult.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stay Connected

John 15:1-17

The Vine and the Branches
 1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other."

             For my sister's birthday a few weeks ago she received thirteen beautiful red roses. They sat in a vase on our kitchen table for a week. After a few days, the natural beauty in her roses began to fade as they wilted and turned brown. They were dying because they were cut off of the rosebush. That is the same thing that will happen to us if we try to survive disconnected from Jesus. We cannot bear fruit away from the vine the same way that my sister's roses died away from the bush. But if we stay connected to Jesus and bear fruit in his name, God will prune us and help us so we can grow even more in His glory.
             But how do we stay connected? How do we remain in Jesus' love? Keep his commands and His joy will be our joy. Love one another with His love. Put others before yourself like Jesus showed us so perfectly when he died on the cross for us. Share the good news with everyone!! Jesus has chosen you to bear eternal fruit in His name and in His glory.
Love One Another. Keep His Commands. Stay Connected.
Will you live attached to the true vine or will you die away from Him?